By Mary Thurwachter

    The time has come for Lantana to formulate a plan for downtown parking. At least that’s what Town Council member Phil Aridas said during the Feb. 23 town meeting after residents complained about the shortage of parking spaces on Ocean Avenue.

    Parking has been problem there for a long time and now, with the bridge rebuilt and reopened and new restaurants opening on the road, it is even more of a headache for customers and business owners and employees.

    “We are going to have take a look at a parking plan downtown,” Aridas said. “It’s time.”

    Although the council took no action at the meeting, it was clear many were sympathetic.
    “There are too many cars downtown,” council member Malcolm Balfour said.

    Mayor Dave Stewart said he “saw big problems down there.”

    At a previous meeting, the town approved a shared parking agreement for Mario’s Ocean Avenue restaurant, which recently opened at 225 E. Ocean Ave. Paesano Italian steakhouse opened on the avenue in mid-January, joining Pizzeria Oceano and the Old Key Lime House.

    Sandy Picone, who lives in the area, said she loves all the new restaurants but walks to them.

    “I might drive if I could get my car out of my driveway,” she said, referring to the cars parked on side streets.

    Hypoluxo Island resident Erica Wold said the town needed to consider the slow flow of traffic in front of the Old Key Lime House. “It took me 12 minutes to go less than a half a mile (on Ocean Avenue),” she said.

    In other action in February, the town:

    • Asked Republic Services Inc., the company that handles residential solid waste collection for the town, to send out fliers to better educate residents on disposal rules.

    • Agreed to spend $41,323 to install a new shade structure in Bicentennial Park. The old one became unsafe because of deterioration of support beams.

    • Authorized the DOT to use the beach parking lot for car parking only, no heavy equipment, while workers are fixing a drainage pipe that runs from the east side to the west side of A1A.

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